Various industry studies indicate that the average sales manager is spending up to 80% of their time in NON-sales related activities, juggling up to 30 or more tasks in any given week. Most are inundated with more administrative duties and paperwork than ever in the history of the retail car business while also mastering numerous technologies; DMS’s, CRM’s, desking tools, appraisal tools, etc. Many of today’s sales managers have evolved to become sales administrators and no longer know what the job of a sales manager truly is, or the priorities of the job. Many of these same sales managers often possess outstanding leadership, coaching and deal-making skills that are being underutilized and waiting to be unleashed. Do you really want people in leadership positions stocking in vehicles, commissioning deals, doing dealer trades and the plethora of other mundane tasks that keep them chained to a desk and shooing away sales consultants?
As a dealer principal or general manager consider conducting a sales manager audit; identify and list all the various tasks that your sales manager currently attends to in a given day or week. One dealer principal directed his sales manager to NOT do any paperwork, reports, administration for one full week and to simply pile the files/documents on the dealer principals’ desk. The dealer principal was astounded as to the size of his dealership’s “paper monster” that was sitting on his sales manager’s shoulders week in and week out. Determine how many of these tasks are administrative versus those that directly work with sales consultants and help drive sales. Could some of these tasks and accompanying paperwork be moved to someone else in the organization who may be eager to learn and take them on? Is it time to hire an actual sales administrator/assistant? Is it time to hire an additional sales manager? As a dealer principal or general manager, what do you want your sales managers doing each day? Have you coached them and helped them establish, prioritize and implement their most important daily tasks – those that actually help sell cars?
Below is an example of the 5 daily sales managers tasks/priorities. You may not necessarily agree with all of the priorities or the order based on the size and structure of your dealership, however the list may provide a catalyst for thought, discussion and action.
- Facilitate a 10 – 20-minute Morning Huddles (every day):
- Announce/review business updates such as manufacturer’s incentives,
dealership promotions, month-to-date dealership performance/targets.
Walk the pre-owned vehicle lot with the team to showcase fresh vehicle
- Share a success story from the previous day; a sales consultant victory,
a prospected customer-appointment that purchased, a 5-star Google
- Deliver a thought-provoking or motivating message or facilitate a brief learning; role-play presenting a proposal, overcoming a common objection (“I want to think about it”), a Vehicle Exchange prospecting telephone call, etc.
- Conduct daily Make-A-Deal (MAD) Meetings
- Meet with other sales manager(s) for a daily Make-A-Deal Meeting. Review, develop a strategy and CONTACT (telephone, text and e-mail) each and every unsold customer (NOW!) starting with customers that have visited the dealership within the past 24 hours. Convert contacts to showroom appointments. Note: if you want to increase your “be-back” ratio and sell more cars, sales managers should make follow-up calls of unsold customers, not sales consultants.
- Conduct Mini One-On-One’s with the sales consultants at their work stations
This is designed to be 5 to 10 minutes each day (think speed-dating) to help sales consultants get their day (or shift) started in a supportive and productive manner.
- Re-confirm today/tomorrow’s customer appointments.
- Discuss and develop a strategy for incoming customer appointments. Check vehicles to be presented for cleanliness, fuel, etc.
- Assist and coach the implementation of a minimum of one business development initiative (social media prospecting, etc.).
- Establish productive sales consultant activities for today.
- Meet Customers within 10 minutes of their arrival in the
Sales managers should act as an ambassador of your dealership and meet every single customer within 10 minutes of their arrival to your dealership. For decades we have understood the concept of sales managers meeting customers before they leave the dealership in an attempt to close the sale (the t.o.). This however, is not as effective as it once was unless the sales manager has already established a relationship with the customer earlier in their visit.
- People feel “special” and appreciated when they meet the boss (early).
- Sales managers are often skilled at quickly learning about the customer, their needs and wants and pointing the sale in the right direction (early).
- Sales managers are often (through experience and instinct) able to determine (early) that a customer is indeed ready to purchase today.
- Most dealerships do not have their sales managers meet customers early in their visit, hence it become a competitive advantage.
- Assist to Close Sales on the showroom floor
- Sales managers are not always the most skilled “closers” in the dealership, nor do they need to be. The simple act of a sales manager getting involved to help a sales consultant close a sale (unequivocally) improves the dealership’s closing ratio and customer experience; customers will often acquiesce to the “boss”, or confess as to what their concerns or objections are with respect to moving forward. Sales managers are often able to deftly determine why a customer is not buying (today) and able to brainstorm and facilitate solutions. Moreover, sales consultants appreciate, respect and admire those sales managers that are always willing to jump into a sale to help them succeed.
“Sales Manager” in not a title. It is action and example. The more a sales manager is out from behind a desk and working with their sales team and customers on the showroom floor, the more effective they will be in improving sales, gross profit, sales consultant development and sales consultant retention.
Chris Schulthies is the president of Toronto-based Wye Management. Wye Management provides sales and management training (showroom and digital) for dealerships, dealer groups, OEMs and industry suppliers in Canada and the U.S.